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Parks Canada’s wildlife experts euthanize two black bears in Banff National Park

“Wildlife euthanasia is a last resort, used only when necessary to ensure the safety of the public or when it is in the best interest of the animal’s welfare."
Black Bear
A black bear munches on some greenery in Banff National Park. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF –  Two black bears, including a cub and a bold radio-collared bear that was hazed out of Banff last summer, were put down by Parks Canada’s wildlife experts last week.

The one-year-old abandoned female bear was in bad shape, according to Parks Canada, while the collared adult male bear tagged No. 2202 came back to town a few weeks ago and has been moving in and out of residential neighbourhoods.

“Wildlife euthanasia is a last resort, used only when necessary to ensure the safety of the public or when it is in the best interest of the animal’s welfare,” said Cassandra Smyth, strategic communications advisor in Banff National Park

“These management actions were not taken lightly as Parks Canada maintains the highest levels of animal care for wildlife within its protected places.”

On Thursday (May 9), Parks Canada responded to a report of a “sickly-looking” bear cub wandering on its own on the Bow Valley Parkway.

Smyth said when Parks Canada found the cub, it showed signs of compromised health and was having difficulty moving.

“A Parks Canada wildlife veterinarian examined the cub and determined it to be a female of around one-year-old, in extremely poor body condition, severely dehydrated, anemic, and showing signs of severe neurological disease,” she said in an email.

“Due to the cub’s age and poor health status, rehabilitation was not a viable option, so it was euthanized.  This was the most humane action to take for the sake of the animal.”

In an unrelated series of events, Parks Canada also recently responded to several reports of Bear No. 2202, wandering all over Banff neighbourhoods from Cave Avenue south of the Bow River to near the Ti’nu apartments on Coyote Lane on the other side of town.

Smyth said the bear in question was a radio-collared adult male, which had been hanging out in busy areas of the town over the past few weeks.

Due to the risks to public safety posed by the bear’s behavioural changes, she said Parks made the difficult choice to “humanely euthanize” the bear on May 9.

“Until recently, Parks Canada had been able to safely manage the bear by hazing – using human presence, noise, and projectiles such as rubber bullets to encourage it to move on from high-use areas,” said Smyth.

“Unfortunately, in recent weeks the bear started coming into busier areas of the townsite more often, becoming increasingly bold and no longer responding to hazing efforts.”

Last summer,  Parks Canada issued a warning after bear 2202 kept hanging around the Tunnel Mountain campground and surrounding areas. It was hazed out of town repeatedly.

Parks Canada declined the Outlook’s request to interview a wildlife expert.

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